To make nutrition labelling more legible and understandable, a logo can now be placed on the packaging. Designed within the framework of the National Nutrition and Health Program, the Nutri-Score is gradually appearing on the shelves. Explanations.
Mandatory on all pre-packaged foods, the table of nutritional values is often difficult for consumers to decipher. Energy value of products, fat content, saturated fatty acids, carbohydrates, sugars, proteins and salt per 100 g or 100 ml of product: there is a lot of information. To make it easier to understand, the European regulation authorizes the affixing of additional nutritional information on packaging.
As part of the 2016 Health Law, the French government has recommended the implementation of clear, visible, and easy-to-understand nutritional information for all. The objective: to improve the nutritional information on products and thus help consumers to buy food of better nutritional quality.
What form does this nutritional information take?
The Nutri-Score, a 5-color logo on the front of the packaging, was chosen to present this information.
The Nutri-Score, thanks to a letter and a color, informs consumers about the nutritional quality of a product. Each product is thus positioned on a 5-level scale going from :
- the most nutritionally favourable product (classified A)
- the least favorable product from a nutritional point of view (classified E)
The category to which the food belongs is marked on the logo by a larger letter sign.
How is the score of a product calculated?
To classify each product, international research teams have developed a score that takes into account, per 100 grams of product, the content of :
- in nutrients and foods to be promoted: fiber, protein, fruits and vegetablesin
- nutrients that should be limited: energy, saturated fatty acids, sugars, salt
After calculation, the score obtained by a product is used to assign it a letter and a color.
To take into account the specificities of certain food families such as added fats (butter, oil), cheeses or drinks, the method of calculating the score has been adapted.
Which products are concerned by the logo?
With a few exceptions (herbs, teas, coffees, yeasts, etc.), all processed products and beverages are concerned by the Nutri-Score. Unprocessed products such as fresh fruit and vegetables or fresh fish are not affected, nor are alcoholic beverages.
However, the application of the Nutri-Score is voluntary, based on the voluntary participation of food companies and distributors. The Open Food Facts application can help you find the Nutri-Score for many products, some of which are not listed.
How does the Nutri-Score help you choose the products that you buy?
Complementary to the recommendations of the PNNS which recommend, for example, to consume at least 5 fruits and vegetables per day or to limit the consumption of sweet products, the Nutri-Score can help you when you shop at :
- choose between several products from the same department: breakfast cereals, for example, can have a score between A and E. At a glance, you will be able to choose, among your favorite cereals, those with the best nutritional quality.
- compare the nutritional quality for the same product from different brands: Bolognese lasagne sold in supermarkets, for example, can be classified as A, B, C or even D depending on the brand.
Does it cost more to choose products of better nutritional quality?
Not necessarily. A study based on an experimental online supermarket showed that while the Nutri-Score allows consumers to improve the nutritional quality of their shopping basket, it does not increase the average price.
More than 240 manufacturers and distributors already committed in Canada
Since the creation of the Nutri-Score, more than 240 food manufacturers and distributors have already committed to apply this logo to their products in France. This represents more than 5,000 references in stores and more than 12,000 references in e-commerce.
- Major retailers such as Leclerc, Auchan, Intermarché, Casino, Carrefour and Système U affix the Nutri-Score on their branded products.
- Food manufacturers such as Danone, Bonduelle, McCain, Fleury Michon, Findus, Nestlé, Panzani and Kellogg’s have also committed to the Nutri-Score.
What about additives and pesticides?
Only nutritional aspects are taken into account in the calculation of the Nutri-Score. It does not include other dimensions such as additives or pesticides. In the current state of knowledge, there is no score taking into account these different dimensions.
The “AB” logo is used to identify products from organic farming. It can therefore be used in addition to the Nutri-Score.
Additives appear on the list of ingredients. As a precaution, favour foods without additives or with the shortest list of additives. Whenever possible, it is advisable to cook yourself and avoid the consumption of ultra-processed products.